Review by MegaPowerNinja

"A big step up from the last game, but still lacking."

Pre-review: Let me start out by saying that I have been following this game literally since the day it was announced. I've been playing the Budokai series since the very first installment and before that I was a hardcore fan of the Butoden series as well as Hyper Dimension and other lesser known DBZ fighting games. Needless to say, the first Budokai was a welcome addition to the DBZ fighting game family and in many ways Budokai 2 improved on what was already a great game. Now the third title is here and when it first came out I spend a good 12 hours wetting myself as I enjoyed the revamped fighting system. All that aside, Lets get this review started.

Graphics: -5/5-
The graphics in Budokai 2 were simply orgasmic, yet they were still lacking a little something. Budokai 3 stuck with the awesome models from the previous game but improved the particle effects (particularly the auras. This, combined with better looking arenas makes for an incredible visual experience. I seriously doubt the developers could improve these graphics any further.

Music: -3/5-
Music has never really been that impressive in any of the Dragonball Z fighting games I've played and a bit disappointingly Budokai 3 is no exception. Dimps brought back many themes from the previous titles as well as adding more, and while some of the tracks are good I find myself playing with the music volume turned at least halfway down most of the time.

Sound / Voice Acting: -5/5-
The last two games had some very apparent problems with sound.. so much that it made you wince at times. Thankfully, Dimps has done very well with the SFX track, bringing many sound clips directly from the series. The energy rain effect, the whistling and kaboom sounds as you are sent rocketing into the ground, etc.

The voice acting in this game is as always great, but not incredible. Dimps has successfully made Recoome and Kaioshin even more annoying, but I won't hold that against them. No one likes them anyway.

Controls: -5/5-
The simple controls of the Budokai series have remained just that. Simple. Combos are easy to execute and the controls are very responsive. Even the newest player is never frantically mashing the controller.

Difficulty -N/A-
The difficulty level of this game can be set. The weakest setting is great for newcomers and the toughest will keep even veteran players (like me) on their toes.

Overall -4/5-
I had very high hopes for this game, and watching all the teaser videos and the gameplay footage really didn't help things. The 'Saiyan Overdrive' system is a nice, but sadly I feel like Dimps really didn't go all out on this one. I would have liked to see more Dragon Universe stories, (while one for each character might be asking a little much) they really should have given the more important characters a story. (Frieza, Trunks, Cell, Buu etc.) My favorite character is and always will be Cell and I feel like he kinda got shafted. The Dragon Rush is also another item I have a bit of a problem with. I feel that the computer usually relies much too heavily upon them as they are far too easy to use. Also, There were many characters that should have been in the game but were left out. I was honestly hoping to see Roshi, Janemba, Tapion, Super 17, Android 13, Pan, Pikkon and a few of the Evil Dragons. Other than those issues, this is definitely one of the best fighting games I have ever played and there are none which are more fun to play with a group of friends. (The tournament feature really helps with this.) The Dragon Arena is also a good way to compete with your friends, as there is no better feeling than the one you get when your custom made character beats all your buddies into the ground.

Misc Factors
Addiction -4/5-
This is one of those games that is incredibly easy to get into once you pick it up. While it doesn't have the grasp of something like Tetris, it will give your willpower and your controller a good workout.

Story -3/5-
The Dragon Universe follows the story of the series pretty rigidly, so I will rate the Story MODE instead. As I said before, Dimps should have given other (more important) characters a story.

Character Development <N/A>

Buy this game?
If you are a fan of Dragonball/Z/GT then this game is a must buy, no questions asked. If you're a fan of fighting games but have never watched the series I would advise that you rent this one first, it is a great fighting game but you really wont get 100% out of it unless you are a follower of the series.

I also suggest
If you're a fan of fighting games, do yourself a favor and grab Soul Calibur 2. (The GameCube version is best) Super Smash Bros Melee, or Bloody Roar: Primal Fury.

If you want a more run of the mill fighting game, nothing really special go for any of the Dead or Alive games or the Tekken series.

If you're a DBZ fan, then I would tell you to pick up the first Budokai game. Don't bother with 2 as this title is pretty much a revamped version of it. Stay away from the RPGs and fighting games on the GBA however.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/28/04

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